Thursday, August 25, 2011

Signal Watch Reads: Action Comics 904 (Final issue of the longest running series in American comics)

Action Comics 904
Reign of the Doomsdays Finale
writer - Paul Cornell
artist - Axel Gimènez (pp 1-16), Ronan Cliquet (pp 17-20)
colorist - Brad Anderson
letterer - Rob Leigh
cover - Kenneth Rocafort, variant cover - Jerry Ordway & Paul Mounts
associate editor - Will Moss, editor - Matt Idleson

Let us bid farewell to Volume 1 of the longest running comic in America. Action Comics has been in print since the spring of 1938, and yesterday saw the final issue of the first volume of the comic which created Superman, and therefore, maybe, superheroes, into existence. As much as I understand the need for DC to have a massive new effort to bring readers to their comics, part of me wishes that the only convincing strategy was a break in the numbering on Action. Its like congress suddenly deciding we're going to still have Uncle Sam, but now he's got a mustache instead of the chin slinky. Its just not the same.

I have been in a bad mood for days.

It's hot in Austin.

only the world weary face of Sterling Hayden can convey how much I am sick of this heat
"How hot?" you ask.

So hot that somehow comics scribe Chris Roberson of Superman, Elric and Starborn fame somehow wound up on NPR Wednesday bitching about the heat in Austin.  And rightfully so.

Like, seriously. Its just ridiculously hot. I left Arizona partially because it was this hot all the time (only without the humidity, so I could feel my eyes boiling in the sockets in August)*.

I've realized I've just sort of been in a bad mood for a month because I can't step outside without feeling like I'm cooking in my own juices.  Also, I'm sort of mean on the best of days, so there's that.  But add 70 days or whatever the hell we're dealing with of 100+ days.   You know what?  You have your political debates about global warming.  Its too damn hot, scientifically.  By that, I mean, summer 2011 has been stupidly, morbidly hot.

Hayden knows this heat is just utter BS, but that's the hand we were dealt.  You just gotta live with it.
Maybe its coming back from a vacation and realizing that not only is the "summer" over and you've got nothing to show for it, but that work is getting back into the manic high gear of the fall.  And it still won't really cool down until October 1.

Anyway, I need to unclench a bit, I think.  There's nothing bad going on other than that I'm sick of the heat, and I haven't been swimming nearly enough this year.

I know I'm grumpy about unfinished business and projects.  I know there's movies I want to see.  I wish I had more money.  The cat keeps looking at me weird, and the universe may or may not be headed for a state of total entropy.  I don;t even care which it is, I just want for science to tell me which so I can PLAN AHEAD.

I am in a bad mood.

Hayden shouldn't have to tolerate this heat bunk, or the commies putting fluoride in the water supply

*and partially because of my disdain for Kokopellis as suburban decoration.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Frankenstein turns 80 (sort of)

According to website Frankensteinia (who I would think would know), today the movie Frankenstein turned 80 in that August 24th, 1931 marked the start of filming.

You kids today and your "Final Destinations".  In my day our monsters grunted and  wore sport coats, like gentlemen!
I don't know exactly when I finally watched Frankenstein.  It certainly was never on TV while I was growing up (black and white movies did poorly back then, thus the horrendous Turner colorization effort circa 1991), and I recall it just wasn't really around much of VHS that I ever saw at Blockbuster or wherever else I was renting movies.  Mostly I remember books around the house about monster movies, but who knows when I saw this at long last?  I do know I saw the Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein movie first when I was at a birthday party when I was very little (it was on 8mm.  Pre VHS, people).

Signal Watch Reads: Superboy 11 (final issue before the New 52)

Written by JEFF LEMIRE
editors - Wil Moss and Matt Idleson

Between Supergirl and Superboy, in the reshuffling that's beginning here in September, I'm definitely more sorry to see Superboy go. When the character was first introduced back in Reign of the Supermen, he was sort of "everything that's wrong with comics" as I felt it at the time. I wasn't sure why I, as a teenager (roughly the age Kon was supposed to be emulating) was supposed to like a character who I felt was a bit of a dipstick, a portrayal that I'd never shake until Geoff Johns got his hands on him in Teen Titans and just dropped the previous decade's worth of portrayal.

Comicsfans: Not every single "cute", "manga" or "fill-in-whatever" style take on DC Comics "needs to happen"

Not every damn cute picture of Supergirl and Batgirl as Manga characters would lead to a just unbelievably great comic.  Not every "ninja" Batman drawing is being robbed of achieving its full potential as anything other than that one, single, drawing.  Han Solo Superman or whatever is not "the perfect idea".

Comics have been caught in an echochamber of mashing two ideas together for the past ten years, and its old. 

I'm sorry.  Someone had to say it.

I'm going to get a cup of coffee.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Signal Watch Reads: (Here Comes) Daredevil 2

(Here Comes) Daredevil #2
writer - Mark Waid
penciler - Paolo Rivera
inker - Joe Rivera
color artist - Javier Rodriguez
letterer - VC's Joe Caramagna
asst. editor - Ellie Pyle
editor - Stephen Wacker

What? I'm looking at a MARVEL comic???? Everybody just breathe easy, and we'll get through this.

Signal Watch Reads: Supergirl 67 (final issue of this run!)

Supergirl 67
This is Not my Life: Part 3 of 3
writer - Kelly Sue Deconnick
penciller - Chriscross
inker - Marc Deering
colorist - Blond
letterer - Travis Lanham
cover - RB Silva, Rob Lean, Javier Tartaglia
editors - Wil Moss & Matt Idleson 

I skipped reviewing issue 66 of this run as its a three issue storyline, and there wasn't much new to add for the second part, not until we'd seen the ending of what DeConnick and Co. decided they'd like to do with this story to wrap up this run on Supergirl. I doubt, of course, DeConnick was exactly aware that this was the final story this version of Supergirl would see before next month's reboot, and so its not much of a farewell to Kara Zor-El. Its just another chapter in the life of Superman's cousin, struggling to find her place in the universe.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ladies' Halloween Costumes 2011

It's that time of year again, boys and ghouls!

Time to start thinking about what you might wear for a Halloween costume. As always, I shall be dressed as Superman whilst dispensing candy (and comics!) to the local kiddies.  Should a party erupt, we'll have to see what I do.

Last year on this blog we took a look at some surprising additions to what costume makers thought would make great "sexy" Halloween costumes. This year, we weren't quite as shocked. After Sexy SpongeBob, nothing can phase us.

All pics were lifted from, a place where I've bought some great items for Halloween such as my Superman boots and what was once my Superman costume (I only use the cape and belt anymore).


Wonder Woman is a staple of sexy Halloween costumes.  No doubt, the beauty of Aphrodite, wisdom of Athena and drinking prowess of Robert Mitchum is what every young trick-or-treater is thinking of when donning their Halloween garb.

The Linguree:

I think this one is not actually a "costume" that I think is intended to be worn at home so much as a convenient way for folks with creative homelives to spice things up a bit.  Or a way to make things fun at Los Chicas Bonitas come October 31.  But it is kind of cute.  I like the skirt.  But I don't think Diana could fight much crime in those heels.

While the World Burns... even Morrison doesn't think this mode is sustainable

A frog in a pot will not notice when the heat around them begins to rise, and will get cooked alive.

I'll be honest with you, in a lot of ways I think this describes the bizarre culture that's grown up around comics and its resistance to facing down the hard numbers of the state of the industry.  Nathan C. today forwarded me an article from Rolling Stone in which comics writer Grant Morrison, arguably one of the more successful and definitely one of the smartest guys in comics, talks more bluntly than I can recall seeing from in an interview.

Morrison is making the rounds promoting his book Supergods (my copy shipped today from Amazon), and perhaps he's a bit tired out or punchy from too many interviews, but its the first I've seen of Morrison not being asked to play shaman and reinforce our own mystical beliefs in superheroes.  Instead, Hiatt asks Morrison some straight up questions about the flagging American comics industry, and Morrison answers from his own script rather than from the cheerleading script, no doubt his employers would prefer.

DC is relaunching its entire line – is there some desperation there?There's always going to be a bit of that because comics sales are so low, people are willing to try anything these days. It's just plummeting. It's really bad from month to month. May was the first time in a long time that no comic sold over 100,000 copies, so there's a decline.

Rumor: Atomic Comics of PHX area closing/ closed its doors

Editor's note:  This closing has now been confirmed.

When we moved to Arizona in 2002, we didn't exactly move to the middle of the Phoenix Metro area.  We moved to a location about as far south as one could go at the time and still claim to be in Phoenix rather than Tucson.  Of course, some of that changed in the time we were there, but a concern I had when we arrived was that I wasn't clear on the comics-retail situation.

In the end, it worked out that I got about 70% of my usual stuff from a small store that did a mediocre job of actually fulfilling my orders, but which gave a steep discount and was convenient to my office (I won't name it here as its back in business under new ownership, and no reason to bemoan a store that's had two changes of ownership since then).  I got another percentage from a store that was even close to my office, but which, for reasons I don't recall, rubbed me absolutely the wrong way.  Enough so that I only went there if absolutely forced to do so.

But I think I discovered Atomic Comics before the first week was up of me living out there.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My father's birthday included Robot Gorillas

Today The Admiral is 65.  Sixty Five.

The Old Man has been around the sun now a few times, and so we pay him his dues.

This weekend we headed into Galveston where we stayed in a condo on the beach and generally took it easy.  The days of running all over, Griswold-like, during any vacation seem to be receding in the rear-view mirror, and I'm quite pleased with this turn of events.  I am content to bob in the ocean and worry only about my next meal.

The Admiral then ran off, arms out at his sides shouting "vrroooooom!  VROOOOOOMMM!!!!".  This is a B17.
Unfortunately, we hit Houston at about 3:30 on a Friday in August, right before school started, so we were one of several million people on I-45 heading down past Hobby when I noticed, first, that our tire pressure alert had gone off.  I said nothing to Jamie so as to not cause undue panic, but was feeling the car handling poorly soon afterward, but funny thing about that stretch of Houston...  its almost impossible to pull off for a couple of miles.

Now, I will say this for the drivers of Houston:  their roads may have been designed by crazy people, but I had more people letting me know I had a flat tire than you can imagine, and people BLOCKING for me as I eventually managed to get off around Scarsdale.  And THEN we basically rolled into this surprisingly garage, and the guy patched my tire basically for free since he felt sad he didn't have the exact tire or fix-it kit he'd want to do a good job.  So, Houstonians,  I ask you to patronize Premier Foreign Domestic Cars when you have a chance.

We made it to Galveston only about an hour late, went to The Spot for dinner on the seawall.  Then back.

The next day we swam in the sea, then The Admiral and I went and got a new tire for the CRV while Jason, Amy and KareBear went to The Bishop's Palace on Broadway (which I pledge now to visit on my next voyage to Galveston), while the Admiral and I detoured over to The Lone Star Flight Museum.  For a small (inexpensive, too!) museum, they had an impressive batch of planes.  What was mostly impressive was that almost 3/4's of what they had was still airworthy.  So, in the morning we'd been bobbing in the ocean and watched a P-51 Mustang, a B-17 Flying Fortress, a T6 and a Stearman bi-lane go over, and all four were at the Museum while we were there, so we could walk right up to them.  I'm no plane aficionado, but for some reason I find the P-51, P-47 and F-4U interesting birds, and they had all three (no B-26, P-38 or P-40, but who is quibbling?)!  They also had B-17 which I stuck my head in (I wasn't supposed to, I think), and this thing, which is one of the models The Admiral worked on back in his Air Force days in Vietnam.

The Admiral asks too many questions about how he should pose.  I am not patient for this litany of questions.
He told me 10 times what this thing is, and I think its an A-8.  But that isn't actually correct.

edit:  I am told this is an A1-H, but The Admiral worked on the A1-E.  Both called the "Skyraider".

Last night we went to the Olympia Grill for dinner.  Had a lovely time.

This morning, Jamie woke me up once and said "You don't want to see the sunrise, do you?"  And I said "Hrrruughh?  Murrgghhh." and went back to sleep.

The condo we were in was pretty snazzy, up on the top floor of the Galvestonian with view both south and east, and so I could see her compelling argument, but at 6:45, all I could think was "pillow.  face.   Gnnrraaghhh."

10 minutes later she tried again, and so I got up and watch the sun just post-rising today.  And then I hit the beach for an hour.  The fishies were swimming exactly on the surface all around us, and pelicans were dive-bombing all over the place getting their morning meals.

We then packed up, and had to leave, enjoying a final meal at the themed "Rainforest Cafe" (where, if you have kids, you may have been.  Its really goofy.).

The League makes a pal.

The Admiral is one for stoicism in the face of nonsense, and perhaps I should not have pointedly asked the "safari guide" for their "most adventurous table", but we had a pretty good view of both the animatronic apes and elephants.  And, somehow, it seemed fitting on The Admiral's 65th, which is actually today, that we ring it in with the freaking out of robot gorillas and the faux-thunderstorm and other such, uh, whatever that is.

But I can recommend the Rainforest Ricky.  Its a tasty treat.